Believe or not, one brainchild for Mike and Dave Allison’s successful “AA” Developmental Hockey Camp here came from California.
“The basis I took it from was at a Los Angeles Kings’ hockey camp,” said Mike, a former NHL veteran who helped out with the camp when he was a Kings’ broadcaster between 1996-1999.
“Their main thing was increasing the joy of the game through skill development and creating an atmosphere where kids are having fun,” he noted.
And since most of the students were very new to the sport, or at least less familiar with it than Canadian kids, having fun and making friends was a focus the camp used to help them understand the game better.
The Allisons’ camp is now set to begin its third year here Monday at the Memorial Sports Centre, with 90-100 students expected in the first week of the two-week camp. About 30 per cent of those live outside the district, said Mike.
He and older brother, Dave, also a former NHL player and one-time coach of the Ottawa Senators, started the camp as a way to help kids stay sharp in the off-season.
“Dave had more experience in skill development and [he] designed a program that fit more the skill here than in L.A.,” said Mike.
“You don’t improve a whole lot in the games so these general camps are important,” noted Dave. “We get some good kids and good skill level and it’ll pay off when they take it into their season.”
The camp provides on-ice lessons for Tom Thumb, Atom, PeeWee, Novice, and goaltending in the first week. Bantam, a girls’ camp, and the pro-conditioning camps will fall during the second week (July 30-Aug. 3).
One hour of class time per day will be devoted to a “Coach’s Corner,” where students learn about working together as a team.
Guests will include pro hockey player Jason Goulet from Warroad, Mn. and Ruth-Anne Cantile, the new women’s hockey coach at Mankato State College.
Goulet played for the Milwaukee Admirals (where Dave Allison now coaches) last season while Cantile helped foster the growth of the Bemidji State University women’s program for the last three seasons.
The camp has continued to grow under the Allisons’ guidance and associates Greg Madill and Rick Stuart. In fact, Mike Allison said they’ve been approached by some to run another “AA” camp outside of Fort Frances.
But he stressed self-improvement, not expansion, continues to be the camp’s short-term goal.
“In the summertime, all of us want to be in Fort Frances,” he said. “But we want to try and improve this camp to where it runs itself.”
But their pro-conditioning camp, aimed at players aged 16-20 preparing for a high school or junior hockey season, have seen a low registration.
As of yesterday, only 10 had enrolled. Mike said this camp, which has seen Muskie standouts Adam McTavish, Jamie Booth, and David Lloyd participate in previously, needs at least 28 students to run well.
There also are still some openings in both the girls’ camp and Bantam boys’ program. Any interested students for these openings, or anyone interested in registering for next year’s camp, can call 274-0982.